Kingdoms of the iron age

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Museum Mistelbach Museum Mistelbach

On 19 March 2022, the MAMUZ Museum Mistelbach opens its new special exhibition “Kingdoms of the Iron Age” that tells a fascinating story of the early Iron Age. With the advent of iron as a new material, society in the 8th century B.C. underwent fundamental changes which were reflected in a multitude of technical, economic and religious innovations. At the top of society, a wealthy elite emerged whose prosperity was based on trade and who were buried in splendour under monumental burial mounds. Precious funerary goods such as elaborately decorated tableware bear witness to lavish banquets at the royal courts. Showcasing unique archaeological objects and spectacular reconstructions, the exhibition provides captivating impressions of the first kingdoms in Central Europe.

 

The 8th century B.C. marked the dawning of a new age in Central Europe: the Iron Age. Iron became the most important material for making tools, jewellery, utensils and weapons and, together with increased trade relations with the Mediterranean region, provided the basis for a new, more structured society. The Hallstatt culture, named after the famous archaeological site in Upper Austria, signified the emergence of a completely new culture with a clearly pronounced social hierarchy, as evidenced by numerous grave finds. High-ranking members of the upper class were buried in distinctive large burial mounds. These contained valuable grave goods, including weapons, jewellery, imports from the Mediterranean region as well as large sets of tableware for feasts in the afterlife and ritual vessels.

But what do we know about these Early Iron Age leaders and how far did their power extend? The names of both the individual peoples and their leaders are unknown. The only information we have about their wealth and influence comes from archaeological finds and written sources from the ancient Mediterranean civilisations.

Exhibition highlights include grave goods from the Hallstatt period such as the bronze mask and hands, armour and helmet from Kleinklein in Styria, an aulos (wind instrument) unearthed in Százhalombatta in Hungary, the bird chariot from Glasinac in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the bronze bull statue found in the Býčí skála- Cave in the Czech Republic. The exhibition also features replicas of the Cult Wagon of Strettweg, the golden torc from Uttendorf and the Hirschlanden Warrior, a Hallstatt-period prince. New finds from recent excavations, such as the face urn from Schöngrabern, will also be presented to the public for the first time. Young visitors are invited to learn about life in the Iron Age at special interactive children’s stations.

The focus of the exhibition is on the culture of representation of the ruling elites, who decisively shaped Central Europe, not least of all through their international networks. Finds of goods imported from the Mediterranean world indicate an intensive exchange with the early Mediterranean civilisations.

The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien and Museumspartner.


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